Motherland mums ‘hate hanging out with kids and avoided scenes with them’

Secrets behind hit show Motherland

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Film legend W.C. Fields reckoned you should never work with ­animals or children – and ­comedy actress Diane Morgan took some of that advice to heart.

But there was a slight problem for Diane. Kids came with the territory when she played stressed-out, downbeat mum Liz in the hit sitcom Motherland.

She and co-star Anna Maxwell Martin, who was the show’s equally long-suffering Julia, even tried to swerve scenes with kids.

Diane, 45, said: “Me and Anna are always trying to work out ways we can avoid scenes with children.”

Laughing, Diane added: “I’ve never wanted children for a split second.

“The pain, the expense, the hassle… I can’t see any advantages.

What is your view? Have your say in the comment section

Tanya Moodie at a London theatre awards ceremony
(Image: WireImage)

Anna at a David Copperfield premiere
(Image: Getty)

“Then I work on Motherland and feel vindicated. People say, ‘Yeah but who’ll look after you in your old age?’ What? Are you only having kids to be your carers?”

Off-screen mum-of-two Anna, 44, who gripped the nation as icy DCI Patricia Carmichael in Line of Duty, does not get the greatest reception from her own daughters.

She has said: “My kids hate Julia. They ­absolutely hate Motherland. They won’t watch it. It’s not funny for them.

“They hate seeing me like that; seeing me that stressed.

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“They are the centre of my life. More than anything else. It’s me and my girls. I mean, otherwise, what is it all for?”

Clearly Anna’s girls are in a minority about the show.

Motherland’s honest and hilarious picture of the trials and traumas of middle-class motherhood in a leafy London suburb has won sweeping critical praise.

This clever comedy, which pokes fun at ­harassed women rushing from playdate to bake sale while trying to juggle career, home and husband, is now at the end of its third series.

Helping Julia and Liz – a working-class single mum who doesn’t care about costumes on World Book Day – get the laughs are snobby Amanda (Lucy Punch), wimpy dad Kevin (Paul Ready), and outrageous Meg (Tanya Moodie).

Diane as fed up Liz on the hit TV show
(Image: BBC)

Every working or stay-at-home parent will recognise someone in the cast as being just like someone they know – and hate – from the school gates.

For Diane, Motherland is the latest in a long line of hits – from playing gormless Philomena Cunk, to sad Kath in Ricky Gervais’s After Life, and Mandy in the 2019 comedy of the same name.

Anna has also branched out beyond Motherland with a memorable role in Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield, a modern take on the Charles Dickens’ classic novel.

Tanya, as high-flying Meg, is the newest recruit to Motherland, created by Sharon Horgan and Graham Linehan.

Anna chats to Liz in scene from popular BBC show about stressed out busy mums
(Image: BBC)

She has revealed how, as a late teen, she was as wild as her ­character and ­experimented with LSD and mushrooms.

She said she has even had an open discussion with her daughter about taking hallucinogens.

Speaking to The Scummy Mummies podcast, she said: “Hand on heart I was Meg up until I was 18-ish. When I was into that my thing was… I really liked psychedelics. Shrooms. LSD.

“That was back in the day. If my kid hears this! Actually we had that chat.

Diane as Mandy in 2019 comedy of the same name
(Image: BBC)

“We watched a thing about psychedelics and we had a very frank talk about all those things.”

On another occasion she had a wild night with her partner in Amsterdam.

She said: “A friend of mine is Dutch and she said, ‘Now listen Tanya, if you are going to do an edible don’t eat the whole cake because it is very strong’.

“Anyway I ended up eating the whole damn thing, he fell asleep and I just stayed up watching Dutch TV off my face.”

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Tanya, who previously appeared in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, was the first black character to be introduced to the cast following two series of mainly white casting.

And she said she was pleased when a producer recognised the lack of diversity in the show.

When asked what she thought about the initial lack of diversity, she said: “The actor in terms of influence in these jobs is the lowest.

“You get the part and then you follow orders. That’s the gig, I’m not complaining.

Anna Maxwell Martin in Line of Duty as icy Detective Chief Superintendent Patricia Carmichael
(Image: BBC)

“But I did have those questions within me. When I watched the first series I was like this is the perfect ­combination of characters why on earth would they fix something that wasn’t broken?

“I was so scared that they were going to bring me in and I was going to ruin it. All I could do was trust them ­because they are all really high-calibre writers.

“However there was a Q&A and somebody asked that question.

“And one of the writers said we looked back on the series and felt it was unrepresentative of the demographic of London and we felt shame on us. So when I heard her say that. I was like, ‘oh yeah that’s nice’. So I was happy about that.”

Tanya as Meg, who has a big storyline in series three
(Image: BBC)

Tanya, who is a highly acclaimed stage actress, studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where she is now an associate teacher and council member.

She said: “I’m from Canada, I’m not originally from here, I’ve come from a weird middle-class background, I went to a weird French nunnery for schools. If I really want to make a friend I thrust myself on them.”

The BBC has not yet ­confirmed whether Motherland will return for a fourth series.

But after exploring a number of big storylines in series three – such as Meg’s cancer diagnosis, Kevin and Amanda’s unlikely but passionate romance, gearing up for secondary school – we would be surprised (and ­disappointed) if BBC Two did not bring back the scrummy, glummy mummies for more ­seriously funny adventures.

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